Jinoos Taghizadeh, For Forough, 2004. 6:48
The presentation of self, particularly female self, in public is highly regulated in Iran. As a result, art practice has taken a decidedly inward turn; art venues are situated in private spaces, where they are shielded from unwanted oversight. Unsanctioned public art—performances, events, and interventions in the public space—defies prohibitions. Performances by Jinoos Taghizadeh have been exceptional in their substitutions of private and public, in her evocations of personal space in the everyday life in Tehran. In her performance For Forough, dedicated to Persian poet and filmmaker Forough Farrokhzad (1935-1967), the artist walked from a bookstore in Bagh-e-Ferdows in northern Tehran to Farrokhzad’s grave in Zahir od-Dowleh Cemetery. On walls, street posts, and sidewalks along the way, she attached posters with photocopied images of Farrokhzad’s poems, overlaid with the artist’s hands holding the books open. In these images, the artist and the poet come together in the space of the page; by posting the images containing forbidden texts around the city, despite being stopped and threatened by the police, the artist inducts her fellow citizens into the community of minds. (The action took place during the reform period prior to 2009—it would hardly be possible in the current political climate.) At the day’s end, the path to the cemetery has been marked with posters, and a group of friends has gathered to share a birthday cake served on the gravestone. Communal bond has been created in this procession—from the recent past to the present, private to public, friends to strangers, self to others.